CEBU UNDER TRAVEL ALERT
AN ICONIC landmark of Cebu City, the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda is the venue of the nightly concerts dotted with food stalls which will end after the Sinulog Mardi Gras on Jan. 20. (Photo courtesy of Kirby Campo)
Cebu enjoys high occupancy rate despite UK travel warning.
Cebu-based hotels and resorts continue to enjoy a high occupancy rate despite the advisory issued by the United Kingdom (UK) warning its citizens against traveling to the southern part of the province following the Cotabato City explosion on New Year’s Eve.
In a report by PIA-Central Visayas, Judy Gabato, chief operations officer of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Visayas, said their office has not received any report of any cancellation of bookings from the tourism stakeholders amid the travel warning.
DOT-7 expressed concerns over the travel advisory at a time when Cebu is celebrating the 39th annual Sinulog Festival, dubbed as the biggest event of the year, with a series of activities for the entire month of January.
“So far, we did not receive any cancellation for planned tours this month,” claimed Alice Queblatin, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operators (CATO).
Queblatin said January is a peak month for them due to Sinulog where most balikbayans come home for a vacation.
On Jan. 17, three international flights will be arriving that include balikbayan passengers to witness the Sinulog Mardi Gras and join local tours in the annual program dubbed “Balik Cebu”, said Gabato.
The DOT operations officer expressed optimism that the volume of passengers visiting Cebu and the region this month will increase due to the opening of Terminal 2 at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport.
Carlos Suarez, president of the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC), shared the same observation, saying that hotel bookings are at its peak every January with hotels raking in good profits due to the high occupancy rate because of Sinulog.
“We did not receive any booking cancellations because of the travel advisory,” said Suarez.
Meanwhile, local authorities assured there is no imminent and direct threat to Cebu at present but they are strengthening their monitoring in view of the travel advisory.
This was revealed during a recent meeting of the Regional Intelligence Committee Subcommittee on Security and Tourism called by DOT-7 where officials from the police and the military said no reports were received relative to planned terror attacks.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG-7), on the other hand, said they are strengthening target hardening of the ports especially in the southern part and are using K-9 dogs to enhance security checks.
Neil Sanchez, supervising transportation regulation officer of the Office of the Transport Security (OTS), said the UK travel advisory may be due to Cebu receiving bus travels from Zamboanga City, which traverses the southern route from Negros Oriental.
Sanchez said they are on “heightened alert” until the end of Sinulog, as they continue to strengthen security measures and monitoring of the transport system that includes the inbound cargoes.